Keep dreaming: Ukraine, Georgian EU membership chances slim – Chizhov
12 Dec, 2011 14:03
The admission of Ukraine and Georgia to the European Union is not on the short-term agenda, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said in the course of a Moscow-Brussels video conference on Monday.
"As for the possibility of realizing the dearest dream of the leaders of some former Soviet republics to enter into the EU, I believe this possibility will remain their dearest dream in the foreseeable future," Chizhov said on Monday.The chances are “minimal,” he emphasized.Brussels, however, will continue developing relations with these states, he said."We know, for instance, that negotiations for an association agreement are proceeding with Ukraine,” Chizhov said. “There are also negotiations with a number of countries of the former Soviet Union [on the question of] simpler visa formalities, as well as the prospect of visa-free travel.”Opinion in the EU is that visa-free travel with Russia should be linked to visa-free travel with these [former Soviet] states, Russia’s EU envoy noted."The Russian position is simple: in fact, we do not mind the simultaneous introduction of visa-free travel for Russian citizens and citizens of the other post-Soviet states," he said. It is most important that visa-free travel with Russia does not become “a hostage” of similar negotiations with other states, he added.Last month, President Dmitry Medvedev said he hoped the visa regime between Russia and the European Union will not only be simplified but completely lifted.“We actually view the problem of visas as a rudiment from the past which Europe should refuse [in order to] build full-fledged relations with Russia,” the Russian leader said at a joint news conference alongside his German counterpart Christian Wulff in Berlin.Russia and the EU have already reached an agreement on long-term visas for five years. The EU currently issues short-term visas from several days to one year, although the Schengen Agreement permits five-year visas.Robert Bridge, RT